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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Narcissi to Beat the Winter Doldrums

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Deep into winter, when skies can be very gray and temperatures frigid, flowers are just the thing to brighten the inside and to bring warmth to the house. Narcissus bulbs, also called paperwhites, are some of the easiest bulbs to force for indoor blooming when the outside landscape is dull, lifeless, and dreary. A great way to beat the winter doldrums.

These were planted in mid-December and are in my kitchen sunspace that gets bright light even on cloudy days.  The sun is bright most of the time in north Texas. There are 232 days per year classified as sunny days (30% clouds or less).  

When traveling to other parts of the country, I realize I miss the sunny skies of Texas. I am Texan by choice brought here as a young bride over 43 years ago, but for many years I missed the flowers that grew in north Alabama that were nurtured by the abundance of rain under cloudy skies. I still miss the flowers, but have learned to love the sunshine more. 

Perhaps just as important as the bright light is for forcing bulbs is the potted bulbs are warmed from the solar heat coming through the windows and overhead skylights in the sunspace. 

If you live in areas that have really cold winters, consider watering your bulbs with at least room temperature water, instead of really cold water straight from the faucet, to mimic warming soil needed for bulbs to begin growing.  You may be very neat and careful when you water your plants, but I have a tendency to splash water outside the container.  That is why I use some kind of saucer like this oval platter underneath my containers to catch the splashes that can damage furniture.  Lesson learned the hard way.  

Not only do the blooms cheer up the kitchen, but these smell so good. The fragrance of some narcissus varieties is very strong, actually overpowering, but these have a light fragrance. 

To help keep the stems upright, I rotate these every day. See the stems leaning to the right, toward the sun?  

Though the winter is cold and some years bitter cold with snow and ice, the narcissus blooms help me beat the winter doldrums and make me happy.  

The only snowflakes I have seen this winter are the blue and white glass ornaments hanging above the bowl of narcissus bulbs.... but the winter is not over yet. 

Should we get bitter cold, snowy, icy days, I will just close the shades to help insulate our house and narcissi from the cold and retain the solar heat...  and enjoy the narcissus bulbs and snowflake ornaments inside while winter rages outside. 

Want to grow your own narcissus bulbs inside?  See these two posts for directions and inspiration. 

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